Facing Black and Jew: Literature as Public Space in Twentieth-Century America

By Adam Zachary Newton | Go to book overview

Facing Black and Jew
Literature as Public Space in Twentieth-Century America

In Facing Black and Jew, Adam Zachary Newton couples works of prose fiction by African American and Jewish American authors from Henry Roth and Ralph Ellison to Philip Roth and David Bradley. Readingtheworkof such writers alongsideand through oneanother, Newton's bookoffersanoriginalwayof juxtaposing twomajortraditions in modernAmerican literature, and rethinking the sometimes vexed relationship between two constituencies ordinarily confined to sociopolitical or media commentary alone. Newton combines Emmanuel Levinas's ethical philosophy and Walter Benjamin's theory of allegory in shaping an innovative kind of ethical–political criticism. Through artful, dialogical readings of Saul Bellow and Chester Himes, David Mamet and Anna Deavere Smith, and others, Newton seeks to represent American Blacks and Jews outside the distorting mirror of “Black–Jewish Relations, ” and restrictive literary histories alike. A final chapter addresses the Black/Jewish dimension of the O. J. Simpson trial.

ADAM ZACHARY NEWTON is Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas, Austin. He is the author of Narrative Ethics (1995) and numerous articles in scholarly journals.

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